Child Safe Policy
Our commitment to child safety
Our organisation is committed to child safety.
We want children to be safe, happy and empowered. We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers.
We are committed to the safety of all children.
We have zero tolerance of child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures.
We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously.
Our organisation has robust recruitment practices for all staff and volunteers.
We have policies, procedures and education in place that support our staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.
If you believe a child is at immediate risk of abuse phone 000.
Our staff and volunteers
This policy guides our staff and volunteers on how to behave with children in our organisation.
Children should never be left unsupervised in the care of toy library staff or volunteers. Parents/guardians should always supervise their children at the toy library. Wherever feasible toy libraries should implement the ‘two-person rule’ – ensuring there are two people present when the toy library is open.
All of our staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct, which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children.
Our organisational culture aims for all staff and volunteers to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. Education is important to ensure that everyone in our organisation understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility. All staff receives training on our code of conduct.
Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the relevant government department or police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.
Training and supervision
Training and education is important to ensure that everyone in our organisation understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Our organisational culture aims for all staff and volunteers (in addition to parents/carers and children) to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We train our staff to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.
New employees and volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand our organisation’s commitment to child safety and that everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse, as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate (please refer to this organisation’s code of conduct to understand appropriate behaviour further). Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the, relevant government department or police depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.
We take all reasonable steps to employ appropriately skilled people to work with our members. We develop selection criteria that clearly demonstrate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities.
We carry out reference checks and working with children checks for any paid staff members to ensure that we are recruiting the right people. Please see the Working with Children Check website <www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au> for further information
Fair procedures for personnel
The safety and wellbeing of members is our primary concern. We are also fair and just to personnel. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and based on evidence.
We record all allegations of abuse and safety concerns using our incident reporting form, including investigation updates. All records are securely stored.
If an allegation of abuse or a safety concern is raised, we provide updates to children and families on progress and any actions we as an organisation take.
All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they are staff, volunteers, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it.
Our organisation takes our legal responsibilities seriously, including:
- Failure to disclose: Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.
- Failure to protect: People of authority in our organisation will commit an offence if they know of a substantial risk of child sexual abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
- Any personnel who are mandatory reporters must comply with their duties.
In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified (see information about failure to protect above). In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
We have risk management strategies in place to identify, assess, and take steps to minimise child abuse risks, which include risks posed by physical environments (for example, any doors that can lock), and online environments (for example, no staff or volunteer is to have contact with a child in the organisation on social media).
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We will ensure that families and children have the opportunity to contribute. Where possible we do our best to work with local Aboriginal communities, culturally and/or linguistically diverse communities and people with a disability.
Allegations, concerns and complaints
Our organisation takes all allegations seriously and has practices in place to investigate thoroughly and quickly.
We work to ensure all families, staff and volunteers know what to do and who to tell if they observe abuse or are a victim, and if they notice inappropriate behaviour.
We all have a responsibility to report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place (see information about failure to disclose above).
If an adult has a reasonable belief that an incident has occurred then they must report the incident. Factors contributing to reasonable belief may be:
- A child states they or someone they know has been abused (noting that sometimes the child may in fact be referring to themselves)
- Behaviour consistent with that of an abuse victim is observed
- Someone else has raised a suspicion of abuse but is unwilling to report it
- Observing suspicious behaviour.